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BARF BoardRoom/Soapbox Archive
Dissecting the lay evangelist
By Mike Doughney


Time: Sun, 31-Jan-1999 04:50:03 GMT     
IP: 12.67.206.212

Let's take this opportunity to talk about the
tools of the lay evangelist.  The poster has
provided excellent examples.  Here's a few of the
ones I've noticed in this message; no doubt there
are more.

1) "I'm not one of those obnoxious Christians"
(also known as good cop/bad cop).

2) "You can't understand it because you aren't one
of us."

3) "You must have been hurt somehow."

4) Sacred process, or "it's not _just_ a sales
pitch."

5) Blame the victim, or "You have to know how to
do it, if you aren't getting the benefits you
aren't doing it right."

6) You have to buy it, but it's free.

7) Those that call themselves Christians but do
wrong are somehow ignorant or somehow not real
Christians.

8) Those that object don't know what they're
talking about.

9) Conspiracism, or those that object must be part
of some huge movement or organization.

10) False assumptions made about what objectors
believe about Christians.

11) Objectors don't know what they believe (insult
1).

12) Objectors are somehow handicapped, (here,
blind), incomplete, less-than-fully-abled, or in
the extreme, less than human or demonic. (insult
2).

13) Extrapolation of one's personal experience to
all people.

14) Objectors take all quotes out of context.

Now, one by one:

:I am a christian. I understand that there are a
:multitude of "christians" who only know how to
:point the finger but not use it for anything
:else. I understand how people view christians as
:salesmen.

Well, if you're not one of those obnoxious,
point-the-fingering Christians, then why have you
insulted me at least twice? And if you've got a
problem with certain Christians, why not name them
and make it clear that you've got a problem with
them?

:I understand and sympathize with people who've
:been hurt some how by the christian faith.

You assume that I have somehow been "hurt" by the
Christian faith.  You are wrong.  I do, however,
think that certain individuals who claim to be of
the Christian faith pose an eventual threat to my
continued existence, that of my loved ones, and
that of anyone who is not one of them.  Those who
I see as a threat say the same things that you do,
belong to the same churches that you do, and read
and watch the same media that you do.

:The trouble with many of your articles is that
:you see it from the outside.

The assumption that an "outsider" cannot provide
accurate and insightful commentary, analysis and
criticism of a religious movement is false, and is
again, an insult to all people who don't happen to
agree with your version of Christianity.  This
tactic is also commonly used by defenders of
various cults, including those of Scientology and
the Unification Church.

:True, Billy Graham and Bill Bright seem like
:they just have a simple sales pitch and once you
:sign the dotted line that's all you have to do.

When is a sales pitch not a sales pitch?  And we
both know that the process only starts with
"signing the dotted line."

:But what many don't understand about christianity
:is that A) It's a free gift of a relationship with
:the Being who created them. And B) once you buy
:something, you have to learn how to use it and
:come to an appreciation for it.

Hmm. Is it just me or is there an _obvious_
contradiction here?  Yes, the first taste is free.
Obviously, buying into evangelical Christianity
costs time and money (among many, a tithe of 10%
of gross not net).  There is nothing free beyond
the first step, that should be obvious if you
value your time.

:Many people buy something because they think
:it'll "change their life".

So, again, Christianity isn't free, you've got to
buy it (and no doubt you'll think it's as valuable
as the amount of time/money you paid for it.)

:But as soon as they start reading the instructions
:that come with it, they decide it's too time
:consuming and they'd rather be doing something
:else. So they throw the instructions back in the
:box with the item and push it under the bed.

I'm afraid that we haven't written about any
Christians who could be described in this manner.
If there's anyone that we've written about who
"aren't following the instructions" we'd sure like
to hear about it.  (Or are you suggesting perhaps
that, for instance the Promise Keepers aren't
reading the instructions?)

:Now then, if the item were some sort of life
:saving equipment that you needed to survive for
:the next 24 hours, you might think twice about not
:reading the directions. Trying to use the device
:in a way that was unitended is just as rediculous
:as not using it. So I pose the idea that many who
:become christians simply say they believe and do
:nothing more to understand what it is they believe
:in.

Again, how does this apply to Promise Keepers, or
Operation Rescue, or D. James Kennedy's
organizations, or Pat Robertson's organizations,
or Carman, or Ron Luce, or any of the multitude
that we watch and write about?  And you assume
that we can't survive without the product.
Certainly whole cultures worldwide and many
individuals here have and do enjoy happy lives
without your product.

:I would wager that many of the followers of the
:BARF movement don't really know what they beleive.

Ah, yes, that conspiratorial mindset rears its
ugly head.  BARF is two (count 'em: one, two)
people.  That's it.  If there's a BARF movement
out there, we sure haven't heard about it.

And here's another insult... that I don't know
what I believe.  You think that after almost two
years of going into the events of the most
hardcore wings of evangelical Christianity, day
after day of watching TBN and multiple channels of
Sky Angel and not throwing in the towel and
converting, that we of all people would have a
very clear idea of why we won't _ever_ give in?

:They just think the christian community is out to
:ruin people's lives and that's evil and wrong and
:they just want to have a good time without
:interruptions.

Anyone who cannot understand the meaning of "no"
when I use it is ultimately a threat to my
continued existence.  Perhaps not today, or even
next year.  But when the day comes that everyone
who's going to convert has already converted, and
it becomes clear that no others will convert of
their own free will (except, perhaps, children who
haven't already been exposed to evangelism), the
evangelical Christian's own success at reaching
market saturation (which I believe we're fast
approaching if have not already passed) will bring
an end to any pretense that evangelism is entirely
intended to bring about _voluntary_ conversion.

Since that army of lay evangelists have been
convinced that "fulfilling the great commission"
is the goal that must be reached (or else the
nation/planet gets destroyed by God as a result
[note to non-believers: yes I know it's absurd and
outrageous, but that's what motivates them]) then
the only way to overcome market saturation is to
coerce people to convert.  And this is what we're
beginning to see, whether it's the shooting of
doctors or full-page ads exhorting gays to convert
run by the same church-growth guru who works to be
sure both that consensual queer sex is/remains
illegal and that hate crimes against queers merit
no unusual attention of the law.

:Well, I'm sorry, but if I saw a blind man heading
:for a cliff I'd do whatever it takes to warn him
:and maybe save a life.

This Christian lay evangelist ought to know better
than to insult the prospect.  I am not blind nor
crippled in any way.  (Funny how I always end up
saying the same thing to the animal rights
fundamentalists and the Transcendental Meditation
fundamentalists too.)

:Christ did that for me. He did that for everyone.

Assuming your personal experience is the same as
everyone else's often impresses no one -
particularly those of us who've extensively
examined this message and found it to be somewhere
between absurd and inhumane.

:And he didn't charge them for it.

But as you've already admitted, there is a price.

:But everyone needs to accept his help, turn away
:from the cliff and realize that maybe someone else
:knows a better route through life.

Again, it is the insistence that "everyone needs"
- that you know what's best for us and we are
incapable of making our own "moral" decisions -
that is the problem, and since you've used it
here, you've identified yourself as part of one
and the same movement that we write about. The
rest of us who haven't bought that line do not
need you and do not care.  Ultimately you and your
kind are going to have to force it on us; you have
made it clear that this isn't just about a
personal decision for you, it's about forcing that
decision onto other people.

:And if the idea is that christians are hypocrites,
:well, it's often true. And I say we've always got
:room for non-believing hypocrites.

You haven't defined nor described how I am a
hypocrite. Is your approach to just throw around
as many insults as possible and hope that some
will stick? Or are you just trying to look good in
front of your friends who don't know utter
irrationality when they see it?

:So before you take anything Billy Graham or Bill
:Bright say out of context, you'd better first
:decide if you actually understand what they're
:saying.

This is pretty amusing, since this guy has jumped
to the "out of context" line when I haven't even
quoted anybody.  If you want to argue quotes and
context, perhaps you can start with Bright's new
"Red Sky at Morning" where he argues that
America's only purpose is to evangelize the world.
Sounds like an incredibly unusual purpose
statement for a secular state that specifically
cannot, among other things, impose religious tests
upon its citizens and leaders. Though perhaps
Bright is suffering from end-of-life-and-still-no-
fulfillment-of-Great-Commission-oops-itis and he's
entitled to say stupid things.  Too many people
will take him literally and proceed to try to act
on the rest of us, as they took Francis Schaeffer
literally twenty years ago.

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